Season Preview: Week 3 at Arizona (Part 1: Offense)
by, 05-26-2010 at 04:02 PM (2090 Views)
For Iowa’s third game of the season, the Hawkeyes head to Tucson, Arizona for their first road contest: a September 18th meeting with the University of Arizona Wildcats. Last season, the Wildcats were 8-5 and finished tied for second in the Pac-10 with a conference record of 6-3. They lost 33-0 to Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. This is the second consecutive year that the teams have met; last season, Iowa defeated Arizona 27-17 in Iowa City. In all, the Wildcats and Hawkeyes have met twelve times, with the all-time series tied at six games apiece. Arizona is coached by Mike Stoops, a former Iowa player and assistant coach. Stoops is 33-39 in six seasons in Tucson and has led the Wildcats to two consecutive bowl games for the first time in fifteen years. The Wildcats return nine starters on offense, four starters on defense, and both their kicker and punter.
QB—Last year, Iowa helped end a mild quarterback controversy for the Wildcats. Nick Foles took over that game and ended up starting ten times last season. Foles ended the season with 2486 yards on 260/409 passing and threw nineteen touchdowns to just nine interceptions. In a deep quarterback class in the Pac-10, Foles is probably the fourth best (not counting suspended Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli or USC backup Mitch Mustain), but would probably be competing for the first or second spot in most conferences. Coming off the bench will be Matt Scott, who started Arizona’s first three games last year. Overall, Scott was 41/73 for 441 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Scott is an experienced backup, but really struggled in his only start against a quality opponent (Iowa) last season. Overall, quarterback is a significant strength for the Wildcats. Their starter is efficient and their backup is experienced; however, both struggled against the Hawkeyes last year. Look for improvement this year, as they will look to exploit Iowa’s new linebackers and corner.
Position Grade: A-
RB—Despite an injury that kept him on the sideline for much of last season and held him to just 79 carries, senior Nic Grigsby still finished the season eighth in the Pac-10 in rushing with 567 yards (7.2 ypc) and led the Wildcats with five rushing touchdowns. With Grigsby healthy this year, the rushing attack is in great hands. Filling in when Grigsby was hurt and leading Arizona in yards and carries was Keola Antolin. Antonlin broke a 34 yard run to convert a fourth down late in the game on his only carry against Iowa last season, but ended up with 637 yards and four touchdowns on 114 total carries last year. This duo also had 30 catches last year, but those grabs only netted 140 yards and zero touchdowns. Bigger back Greg Nwoko (76-273-3 last year) will be a sophomore this year, and Taimi Tutogi will be the new starter at fullback. Overall, this a dangerous group. None of the Wildcat backs will be a first team All-American, but the two primary backs have the ability to combine for 2000 yards this year.
Position Grade: A-
WR/TE—While Arizona is very good at quarterback and running back, the receiving corps is the top unit on the team. Arizona returns 51 career starts between their many receivers and tight ends. Despite losing Terrell Turner and Chris Gronkowski (who misses almost all of last season anyway), Arizona returns talented receivers Juron Criner, Delashaun Dean, David Douglas, and William Wright as well as tight ends David Robers and AJ Simmons. Including running backs Grigsby, Antolin, and Nwoko, Arizona returns ten of the eleven men that caught at least five passes last year. Perhaps no other team in America can claim so much experienced depth at the receiver positions.
Position Grade: A
OL—The heartbeat of the Wildcat line will be center Colin Baxter (37 career starts in 38 Arizona games the last three years) and left tackle Adam Grant (who played on the right side in the past). The seniors were both second team All-Pac 10 selections in 2009. Vaughn Dotsy and Conan Amituanai (who joins linebacker Nic Nasti of Eastern Illinois on the All-Name team) both have starting experience at the guard spots and boast impressive size (6-5, 335 and 6-4, 335 respectively). At right tackle, senior Phillip Garcia has two career starts and will compete with senior Jack Julsing and redshirt freshman Eric Bender-Ramsay (who may also play guard) for the starting spot. Arizona also boasts 4-star line recruit Trent Spurgeon, but he is unlikely to see the field at tackle unless he can add to his listed 270-pound frame. Overall, the Wildcat line will be solid but unspectacular. Moving a tackle across the line could be a deciding factor for this group, but they seem to have a good core of four guys and few questions.
Position Grade: B+
Synopsis: The Wildcats have one of the best groups of skill players in America and will be a huge test for the Hawkeyes. Arizona lost offense coordinator Sonny ***** and replaces him with co-coordiantors, Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell. Depending on the cooperation of the coaching staff and the adjustment of the players to a new group, Arizona should have a very powerful offense this fall.
Overall Offensive Grade: A-
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